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On today’s episode of Live Lean TV, I’m sharing 5 ways to reduce muscle soreness and improve recovery after a workout.
Make sure you keep reading all the way to the end, because the fifth way is something I’ve never shared before, and the ongoing research is looking really positive.
If you ask fitness enthusiasts what the most important components of training are, you’ll probably hear:
Yes, those 4 components are important for transforming your body.
However, we’re missing a big one, in the form of recovery and reducing inflammation.
Even though you’re doing your body justice by training with weights and sprinting with intensity, these workouts do create inflammation and aches and pains in the body.
Therefore, as Live Leaners, we must consume the proper foods, supplements, and recover with sufficient sleep and stretching to reduce inflammation and pain.
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With all that said, let’s jump into it.
We’ve become so focused on working out, that we often forget that in order to repair and grow our muscles, they need to sufficiently recover.
This is especially true for men and women like me, who have been consistently working out, all the way into their 40s.
First off, let me simplify why recovery is important to Living Lean.
When you exercise, train, and workout, it causes small microscopic tears to your muscle fibers.
This muscle damage is why you feel muscle soreness after your workout.
This is often called DOMS.
DOMS is short for delayed onset muscles soreness.
DOMS typically occurs 12-24 hours after your workout and can last for up to 3 days.
If you’re like most people, the last thing you want to do when you’re experiencing muscle soreness, is to workout again.
Therefore, you skip the scheduled workouts in your workout program, thus you’re not getting results as fast as you should.
Even if you have the willpower to get back in the gym, training a sore muscle may lead to:
This is why speeding up muscle recovery is essential for performance, and is often the missing critical component of training for sustainable results, well into your 30s, 40s, 50s, 60s, 70s, 80s, and 90s.
If my muscles are sore should I just take more days off from training?
In fact, as a 42 year old, I train pretty much everyday.
However, this does not mean I’m lifting weights every day.
I’m usually in the gym lifting weights 4-5 days a week.
When I’m not in the gym, I’m staying active:
All of these physical activities on my active rest and recovery day keep my body moving, however I’m not putting major stress on my muscles, thus allowing them to recover.
You may be asking, “But Brad isn’t this overtraining?”.
Well for some yes it could be.
However, for someone that consistently follows these 5 tips to take care of their body properly, I say no.
There’s a saying in the training world that goes like this.
“There is no such thing as overtraining, only under recovery”.
With that said, here are 5 ways to reduce muscle soreness and improve recovery after a workout.
When it comes to sleep, focus on quality over quantity.
The deepest, most restorative, and best quality sleep has been shown to occur before 11pm.
I typically put the kids to bed around 8pm, then I fall as sleep around 10-11pm.
Although I used to get up a 5am in the morning, which I probably should get back to doing, lately I’m usually awake between 6-6:30am.
This equal 7-8 hours of sleep.
In addition to this, based on the timing of the sleep, it’s considered high quality sleep.
For example, if you go to bed at 2am and get up at 10am, you’re still getting 8 hours of sleep, however due to the timing, it would be considered lower quality sleep.
There is a strong link between slow recovery and dehydration.
I aim to drink 3-4 liters of water a day.
If you’re wondering how much water should you drink a day, here’s a common guideline to follow.
A general water intake recommendation is to aim to drink approximately 0.7 oz of water per pound of bodyweight.
Since I’m 175 pounds, this would equal 3.6 liters of water per day:
The more you workout, the more calories your body needs to recover.
However, this doesn’t mean you can eat whatever you want.
Focus on high quality foods high in:
The quality of the calories and the macronutrient breakdown are also important, especially when it comes to protein.
Increasing protein synthesis after your workout is especially important for muscle recovery, as lifting weights breaks your muscles down, also known as muscle protein breakdown.
Muscle protein synthesis is simply a fancy word for the process of repairing and building new muscle tissue.
You increase protein synthesis by the foods you eat throughout the day.
Focus on the following healthy sources of complete proteins high in essential amino acids:
These are the best protein sources for muscle recovery, as they contains a superior amino acid profile that is especially high in leucine.
Leucine is one of the three essential amino acids found in branched chained amino acids i.e. BCAAs, and is considered the most important, as it is known to be the sole stimulator of muscle protein synthesis.
Foods high in omega 3 fats, including omega 3 fish oil supplements, may help reduce muscle soreness after a workout by lowering inflammation.
This is why I add a teaspoon of this omega 3 fish oil to my post workout shake.
These foods are filled with the required nutrients to repair and recover your muscles faster.
Foam rolling and massages can help remove waste products after your workouts, which helps reduce muscle soreness, and increase muscle recovery.
After my workouts I usually complete 5-10 minutes of foam rolling, as well as foam rolling any sore muscles the next day.
When foam rolling, the goal is to roll over the entire muscle, then once you find tight spots, slowly roll it out until the tightness releases.
If you can, I also love going for massages.
In a perfect world, I’d go for a daily massage.
However in reality, I’d also take as little as 1-2 massages a month.
If I’m really sore the next day, I also like to incorporate low intensity bodyweight exercises and cardio into my muscle recovery.
Riding a stationary bike immediately after a tough leg workout or using the rowing machine after a back workout can also help reduce muscle soreness.
I find this helps increase blood flow, thus helping reduce muscle soreness.
In addition to employing these other 4 strategies, supplements may also help reduce muscle soreness and increase recovery.
I’ve already covered the benefits of omega 3 fish oil for reducing inflammation, and branch chained amino acids for increasing protein synthesis.
Another amino acid that may help speed up muscle recovery and reduce muscle soreness is an amino acid called glutamine.
The last one is more of a natural remedy versus a supplement, however the ongoing research on muscle recovery is looking really promising.
It’s called CBD.
Cannabidiol, often called CBD, is the second most active ingredient in cannabis, and comes from the hemp plant.
Unlike THC, CBD doesn’t give you the “high” feeling.
A lot of professional athletes are now using CBD for its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties to help reduce muscle soreness and increase recovery, so they can continue getting leaner, faster, and stronger.
Studies are showing the effectiveness of taking CBD for:
Although I don’t want to get too in depth on CBD in this post, let me know in the comments if you want a full video on my thoughts and experiences with CBD and cannabis.
I’ve been using cannabis to manage my anxiety and help me relax for just under two years now.
There you go Live Lean Nation.
Those were the 5 ways to reduce muscle soreness and improve recovery after a workout.
I hope this helped.
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Brad Gouthro is the founder of Live Lean TV, a media company focused on helping men and women “Live Lean” 365 days a year. Brad’s programs and content have helped millions of people all over the world learn how to get in shape, and more importantly, sustain it for life.
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